January 31st, 2009
02:40 PM ET
4 years ago

President Obama prompting a DC renaissance?


Watch Kate Balduan report the Obama's could prompt a DC renaissance.

WASHINGTON (CNN)- President Barack Obama pledged to bring change to Washington.

Now that he's moved to town, local restaurant owners are hoping he'll keep his campaign promise.

After eight years of largely being ignored by a homebody president, Washington restaurateurs are throwing open their doors to the new first family - dreaming of a presidential visit that would undoubtedly spark buzz at a time when some restaurants are struggling.

"I think the Obama family brings back this kind of Kennedy-era style of having a youthful family in the White House," said Sheldon Scott, general manager of Marvin restaurant, in the trendy U-Street corridor. "People actually plan on living in the city, not just necessarily living at the city."

Obama and his wife Michelle have signaled they will continue their tradition of "date nights" at local restaurants. Soon after moving to Washington in January, Obama and a group of friends celebrated his wife's birthday at the upscale Equinox restaurant near the White House.

Equinox chef and owner Todd Gray said since the Obamas' visit "phones are ringing like crazy, not only for reservations but also for congratulations."

"They're creating a huge buzz," he said. "They're out dining, They're out supporting small family businesses, local-run businesses that in the end are the backbone of the American economy. And if that doesn't give people hope, I don't know what will."

The city has already seen a benefit. DC Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Lang said preliminary reports show the inaugural celebrations brought in $700 million to $1 billion to Washington businesses. Lang is optimistic that trend will continue, and cited Obama's visit earlier this month to Ben's Chili Bowl, a landmark Washington restaurant, as an example.

"It doesn't mean that all of our economic problems are over with - I think we still are gonna have some challenges," she said. "[But] this past Saturday or Sunday, the line getting into Ben's Chili Bowl was five blocks long. And so that's the kind of impact that because Mr. Obama ate there, everybody wanted to go see Ben's Chili Bowl. Well, we expect that same kind of impact around the city."

Filed under: Michelle Obama • Obama family • President Obama
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. sue

    People need the president top go out to dinner before they will?
    Now that we have a president that likes the night life, well now Washington will light up! What a bunch of hooey.
    If President Bush went out alot, the libs would be saying, "How dare he in these tough times", but when Obama goes out, they'll say "he's so cool and hip and they're so bringing back the Kennedy era(don't get that at all) and saving the economy".
    This is disturbing and strange.

    January 31, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Larry

    So far the Obama family has been partying there brains out:

    More than $150 million dollars spent in DC two weeks ago by the inauguration committee alone,how much was spent by the people attending???Hotels and restaurants should be well healed for a while.

    January 31, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  3. Howard Church

    Just because he can go out and have a grand evening with his cronies or his wife at an upscale restaurant, does not help feed and house the people out of work across this country. If people are attending your restaurants just because he ate their, then we are a shallow nation and we are in trouble! That fixes nothing!

    January 31, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Dan, TX

    Guess all that money spent on the inauguration was worth it after all.

    January 31, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Now that is a new way of redistributing wealth and enjoying doing it while bringing up our spirit!

    January 31, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Dawn

    Welcome Camalot!

    January 31, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. Simmy

    Change.....Change......Change... I will continue to believe in. Not just words; my President and First Lady are back them up with action!

    God bless you First Family and our Great Nation!

    January 31, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  8. Maggie SC

    Sounds like someone is racking up brownie points

    January 31, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Barack wins and America collectively loses.

    Where should I throw up. These guys are no Kennedys, give me a break. We got a militant lady and a dude with big ears, that is a good teleprompter reader.

    January 31, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. john w

    nowhere near camelot

    January 31, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Sal

    very nice
    im really rooting for you Barack Obama
    so far so good

    January 31, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. a canuck

    Good for the Obama's.........the Bushes were afraid to venture off the White House grounds !!!

    January 31, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. tishoogle

    Love it!! Let's see what the GOP"S have to say about this!!!!!! They are such sore Losers!!!!!!

    January 31, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. tokyo joe

    what a stud.

    January 31, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. Gordon Shumway

    There is one hell of a difference between Obama and Kennedy. Actual prior service in which one was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for one's country, for starters.

    January 31, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. bsmith171

    how about some more CAMELOT?
    it was created two years after JFK was killed.
    JFK never participated.

    January 31, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama may be all sytle, but he's definitely NOT all substance. Style fades, substance takes root and sprots many branches. This guy is so over rated.

    January 31, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. WHAT???

    Americans are starting to put too much pressure and too much importance on the Obamas.

    They are not the NEW COMING, GODS, or YOUR SAVIORS.....they are just human beings like the rest of us.

    He currently has a very important job to do and he should be left alone to focus on the economy.

    Let's get that done first before we start worrying about all the phony materialistic things like glamour and style.

    January 31, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  19. S Callahan

    lol....now he HAS to make a visit to Marvin's.....lol good marketing..at it's best.

    January 31, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  20. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Can they send this picture to the archives? Its a sight for sore eyes on any given day.

    January 31, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  21. Meka



    January 31, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  22. jaye

    This family is completely different than many of their uppity predecessors. They will make D.C. their home and not act as though they're too good for normal folks.

    January 31, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. Erika, KS

    Oh Please! Kennedy style? Get a life people, and stop this asinine Kennedy comparison. Obama hasn't done anything. Time will tell.

    January 31, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  24. Reality

    In this time of depression our president will be out spending taxpayer dollars to boost the sales of restaurant owners who support his campaign. He will be creating a significant national security risk each week to feed his own ego and celebrity image. Meanwhile he condemns execs for flying chartered and accepting bonuses.

    The H doesn't stand to Hussein, it stands for Hypocrite. Corrupted, egotistical, do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do Democrat hypocrite.

    Al Gore, with his million dollar monthly energy bill and son who drives his Prius at 100pmh while hopped up on pills, would make a great dinner guest. So would Nanci Pelosi, with her giving government money to her husband and personal jet.

    January 31, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Ernie in LA

    You need to get to work Obama. The labor unions are waiting on you too. They gave you 85 million dollars. Deliver your promises.

    January 31, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
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